How to have a healthy relationship with social media during lockdown

Mind

Social media addiction is a hot topic in the wake of the Netflix documentary the Social Dilemma. With a second lockdown now upon us, how can we strike a healthy balance and consume social media, without it consuming us? Lucy asks some experts for their tips on getting the right dose.

If like me you watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, or Brave New World on Sky Atlantic, chances are you’ll have had a minor melt down about your social media ‘addiction’.

We all know that spending too much time scrolling can leave us feeling low or guilty, but these documentaries sent my anxieties about my phone use into overdrive. I wanted to throw my phone out of the window.

But, like many people, I rely on social media for my business and social interaction with my friends, so a life sans social media doesn’t work for me either.

Daisy Morris, digital strategist and founder of social media company The Selfhood, believes Instagram is getting a bad rep, and believes mindful consumption, not getting rid of, is the answer.

“Social media has changed a lot in recent months and is now a hub for news, activism and purpose driven content (when used correctly),” she says. “When the pandemic first hit, for some of us it was our only window of connection with other people, and as a result we’ve seen more authentic interactions take place online.”

There are plenty of positive networks on social media, she says, and cites Sober Girl Society, The Grief Network and YSM8 as some of her favourites.

“They are just a few examples of some of the thousands of communities bringing people together through shared interests and a commitment to helping others. A lot of people feel incredibly isolated (pandemic or not) and find ‘their people’ on the internet.”

For others, social media has given them the space to start a business or network in a way they may not have been able to IRL. “I have multiple conversations with different people on a weekly basis about how social media has given them the confidence to start their business and grow their dream in to something tangible.

“I also see a great deal of support and community online, I actually find that total strangers often hype my work up more than people I know!”

For mental well-being expert and co-founder of meditation centre Mind: Unlocked Niraj Shah, a balanced approach to social media is the key.

“Technology is not the enemy, rather it can provide us with many useful tools. Our relationship with our devices is the problem and until now there hasn’t been anywhere near a fair fight between our minds, and the tech giants that want to monetise attention.”

So, why embrace social media, instead of attempting a detox?

“I don’t believe in the lasting effectiveness of any kind of detox be it digital, nutritional etc – except as a reset – unless the underlying behaviours change. If our underlying behaviours don’t change then in the bigger picture nothing will change. From what I’ve seen, most detoxes don’t effectively address habit change. It’s much easier to sell a holiday in the sun with a few promises.”

“Technology has been an incredibly positive force in my life. I don’t want to go ‘off the grid’, I want to manage my behaviours so that I’m in charge and so that they’re geared towards my productivity and happiness rather than what Google & Netflix want me to do.”

Daisy’s top tips for more mindful consumption:

• Have a follower / unfriend detox. Spend ten minutes a month going through the list of people you have appearing on your channels and hit the mute / unfriend / follower button and see it at as a negativity detox.

• Cap the time you spend daily on Apps by setting timer reminders when you’ve spent more than your desired time browsing.

• Switch off notifications for Apps that you don’t want to be distracted by.

• Move the social media icons on your phone every so often so that you think twice when going to find the icon.

• Follow accounts / channels that promote positivity and productivity.

• Put your phone away an hour before you go to bed and read instead.

• Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up, do something for yourself first e.g. stretch, meditate, read, journal or go for a walk.

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By Lucy Sambrook

      A destination for healthy hedonists that fuses the worlds of fitness, healthy food and drink.